With Laura’s final speech out of the way it is now time for Crawley Labour party to choose her successor, and it will not be an easy decision to make.Â Each new letter, e-mail, phone call or visit from a candidate just makes the decision even harder.I know the three local candidates quite well and they are all amongst the group of local members that I most like and respect for different reasons.Â Both the ‘outsiders’ look very good on paper for different reasons, and the one I have met is very impressive.Â I think I would be very happy with any of them to the extent that even deciding who to give the second preference vote to will be a tough choice.
I am less happy with the arrangements, although I understand why they are the way they are.Â The actual selection process is being handled by the regional office or the NEC or someone like that – not the local party anyway – and is following the strict rules for a byelection.Â One reason for this must surely be that it is imperative to make a decision and have a candidate in place as soon as possible.Â If the local party was arranging it there would be a risk of it taking so long to decide what to do and how to best do it to accommodate everybody that we would be lucky to get a candidate in place before the nominations open, and we would get a candidate with a week or two less to campaign in.
The worst part is that there is no facility for a postal vote: just a proxy vote for anybody who cannot get to the meeting because of disability.Â In a town with so many shift workers this will mean some members will be unable to vote and despite understanding exactly why this is the case I reckon I would be very upset if I was one of them.
Though it would save me from a very difficult choice of course.
By this time tomorrow Crawley will have a new Labour candidate, though possibly not a new New Labour candidate.Â I can’t wait to see them in action – though my own campaign in Horsham might leave me seeing them in action less than I would like to.
Despite the chaos and short notice I think this selection has been a very good thing for the local party.Â It has certainly been good for me because the enthusiasm of the candidates has rubbed off and I am now totally up for the competition in Horsham.
I am still of the opinion that being an MP is a job with many deeply unpleasant aspects (the arcane protocols and rituals of parliament, being the default target for public abuse whether deserved or not, the widespread assumption you are on the take, the stupidly old-fashioned working hours, the huge and impossible expectations of the public, and so on) but I think it is worth putting up with all that for the chance to try and actually do something positive, to make a difference somewhere.